Alice: Episode 15
As our detective gets closer to the identity of Teacher, the people around him are suffering the consequences of what they know. Time is growing unstable while those who travel start to remember things that they never experienced. It’s starting to look as if finding Teacher may not be the ending he hopes, but just the beginning of another nightmare.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Time passed is time lost, lazy and lethargic, and cannot be kept even if you have infinite chances. — Jean-Paul Sartre
When Tae-yi receives the DNA results, she’s eager to show Jin-gyum that his DNA matches her hooded attacker from 2010. He says darkly, “I told you didn’t I? That you’d be next.” He whips out the sword and raises it over his head… but Min-hyuk flies at him, knocking him away from Tae-yi.
The two men grapple and Tae-yi screams Jin-gyum’s name, but he continues trying to kill Min-hyuk. Suddenly he stops when he hears a soft voice croon, “Jin-gyum-ah…” and he looks to see his mother next to him.
After a moment he realizes that it’s really Tae-yi — he’s back to himself and horrified at what he’s done. He runs home and glares accusingly at his reflection: “You’re the one I’ve been chasing for the past ten years? How could you? She only lived for you, and only had you to rely on. How could you kill Mom?”
Jin-gyum’s reflection smirks back at him, and he punches the mirror. He puts his gun to his head, but luckily Tae-yi followed him home and she grabs the gun away. Jin-gyum sobs that he didn’t do it, and Tae-yi agrees with him.
He reminds her that he just tried to kill her, but she says it’s a side effect from the time travel. She tells Jin-gyum that he’s the one who joined the police for his mother, who believed unflinchingly in Captain Go, and who regularly puts himself in danger to protect her. Her words make him cry again, and she hugs him tightly.
Min-hyuk had followed them both here, but he hears their conversation and remains in the hallway. He turns to see the hooded stranger watching him and he gives chase, but the stranger disappears.
The next day, Min-hyuk meets with Jin-gyum. Jin-gyum tries to refuse Min-hyuk’s further help, but Min-hyuk reminds him that his stalker killed his mother and is now after Tae-yi. He says he’s the only one who can help, and Jin-gyum knows he’s telling the truth.
Later, Min-hyuk asks Tae-yi not to see Jin-gyum for a while… not because he doesn’t trust him, but just until he returns to normal. Tae-yi argues that that’s why she needs to stay near Jin-gyum, and that she trusts him.
Back at Alice, Min-hyuk talks to a minion who’s been tailing the hooded stranger, but he hasn’t been able to learn anything other than that he’s a non-Alice time traveler. Min-hyuk recalls Sun-young’s dying accusation to watch out for Cheol-am, so Min-hyuk tells the minion to look into Cheol-am’s recent movements.
Cheol-am unexpectedly walks into the room, but Min-hyuk keeps his cool. He tells Cheol-am that someone is doing strange things to Jin-gyum and Tae-yi, adding defiantly that he’ll find who it is and kill him, no matter who he is.
Jin-gyum and Dong-ho are back at Oh-won’s villa looking for clues. They find time traveler Oh-won’s fingerprints everywhere, but strangely, Jin-gyum’s prints are also there and it looks like he’s been there for a while.
Meanwhile, Tae-yi stares at the DNA results again and scratches at the back of her neck, where there’s now a faint Omega symbol like the one Sun-young had. She meets with Do-yeon, who’s been studying the words from the Book of Prophecy‘s final page.
Do-yeon points out the word “creation,” which generally means making something that didn’t exist before in a religious sense, as in something new made by a deity. Tae-yi thinks that if the page is referring to something Sun-young made, then she may be able to find it.
She notices that Do-yeon seems worried, and Do-yeon admits that she’s wondering what Tae-yi’s feelings are for Jin-gyum. She immediately retracts the question, but Tae-yi says that she doesn’t know what her feelings are or what they mean.
Jin-gyum returns home to find Min-hyuk waiting for him, and he tells Jin-gyum that the hooded stranger is unaffiliated with Alice. Jin-gyum asks about Oh-won, who clearly said Why did your mother betray us that night by the lake — he wants to know who “us” refers to. Min-hyuk says he’ll find out, then he’s abruptly dismissed.
Cheol-am reports to Oh-won that Min-hyuk is beginning to make some moves against them, and he apologizes for not dispatching Min-hyuk when he got rid of Sun-young. Oh-won learns that Jin-gyum is investigating the house where he’s been staying, and he wonders out loud how much Jin-gyum will discover there.
At his mother’s old house, Jin-gyum hears a noise in the upstairs apartment. Gun drawn, he goes up to investigate, but it’s just Do-yeon looking through some old boxes. She tells him that she saw the last page of the Book of Prophecy and came to see if she can find anything in his mother’s old belongings that might be the “creation” it refers to.
They head back downstairs where Do-yeon declines a beer in case she gets drunk and bothers him. She’s confused when Jin-gyum sits down to drink one with her, saying that Do-yeon has never bothered him. She asks him if he’ll stop trying to fight people he’ll never beat, and if they can just run away and live a normal life.
Sighing heavily, Jin-gyum says it’s too late for that. Do-yeon says tearfully that she’s liked Jin-gyum since high school, and that she’s not asking him to like her back, just to let her keep liking him. Jin-gyum only replies (a little sadly?) that he can’t promise her anything.
Having inadvertently witnessed this whole conversation from outside the window, Tae-yi leaves and goes to her parents’ restaurant. She and her mom head to a competitor’s restaurant for lunch as a treat, then to the park to relax, and Tae-yi asks Mom if she worried while she was missing. Mom tells Tae-yi how her dad threw a fit at the police station, saying that it’s normal behavior for parents whose kids are harmed.
Mom tells Tae-yi that she’s her true daughter, even if she was adopted. Tae-yi admits that she doesn’t think she’ll make a good mom, though her mother vehemently disagrees. Tae-yi scratches at the emerging Omega mark on her neck, triggering memories of Sun-young finding out that she’s pregnant and giving birth to Jin-gyum.
She rushes home and brings out the Book of Prophecy page, re-reading the line that says Her destroyer son can only be killed by her marvelous creation. She suddenly realizes that Sun-young’s “marvelous creation” is Jin-gyum himself.
Tae-yi looks in the mirror at her neck, where the Omega mark is now raised like a scar. She recalls that Sun-young used to always cover it with a scarf. She calls Jin-gyum, remembering Sun-young saying that the “woman who must pay the price for opening the door of time” refers to both of them.
She sees the hooded stranger standing before her, so she just tells Jin-gyum to be good to Do-yeon. Sensing something wrong, Jin-gyum runs to Tae-yi’s office, but all he finds is her phone discarded on the floor.
Back at Alice, Oh-won tells Cheol-am that Teacher has everything ready. Cheol-am asks what to do about Min-hyuk, and only gets a smirk in response. Meanwhile, Min-hyuk’s minion reports that Cheol-am was seen near the villa around the time of Sun-young’s death.
He then pulls a gun on Min-hyuk, saying that it’s Cheol-am’s orders to bring in everyone who suspects the existence of time travelers, and anyone close to them. Min-hyuk raises his hands in surrender, but as he turns, he grabs the gun and demands to know where Cheol-am is now.
On his way home, Dong-ho is confronted by Cheol-am, who wordlessly shoots him. Bleeding badly, Dong-ho tries to call Jin-gyum, but Cheol-am tosses aside the phone and grinds it under his heel, then aims at Dong-ho’s head and shoots. Nooo, not Dong-ho!
Jin-gyum hears the news, but when he arrives on the scene Dong-ho is gone, leaving behind only a lot of blood. Min-hyuk calls Jin-gyum and tells him to run, because Alice is taking in everyone who knows about time travel. But Jin-gyum’s first thought is of Do-yeon, so he immediately calls her.
She’s at a cafe, so Jin-gyum tells her to leave and find a crowded area to wait for him. As he drives, he tells Do-yeon that he’s not sure how he feels about her, but he knows that if something goes wrong for her, then it goes wrong for him.
Abruptly, the lights in the shopping center go out. Do-yeon sees someone coming slowly down the stairs, and she tells Jin-gyum that she wishes she’d confessed to him sooner, and not to come to her. Dammit, why don’t these people say, “Help, I’m being attacked!” instead of being all romantically cryptic?
She hangs up and runs away as Cheol-am advances on her. A shot rings out and Do-yeon screams… but Cheol-am is the one who falls dead, shot through the head by Jin-gyum. Do-yeon yells at Jin-gyum for coming when she told him not to, but he just hugs her and thanks her for being alive.
He takes Do-yeon to stay the night at the police station where it’s safe, then goes straight to Min-hyuk and demands to know where to find Tae-yi. Min-hyuk tells Jin-gyum to hide while he rescues Tae-yi, but of course Jin-gyum refuses. He wants to go to Alice, and even though Min-hyuk says he may as well commit suicide, Jin-gyum snarls that he won’t lose her again.
They relax simultaneously, and for the first time, Jin-gyum meekly asks for Min-hyuk’s help, since Min-hyuk and his mother were lovers. Wow, that’s the closest he’s come to acknowledging Min-hyuk as his father.
On the drive to Alice, Min-hyuk gives Jin-gyum a pill that he says allows people from the past to access Alice. He asks Jin-gyum’s plans after rescuing Tae-yi, and Jin-gyum says resolutely, “I’m going to kill whoever killed my mother.”
Jin-gyum is correct that Tae-yi is at Alice, locked in one of the guest rooms. Oh-won comes in and introduces himself, and Tae-yi says that he sounds just like the Oh-won she knew. He confirms that he was on the same research team as Jin-gyum’s mother, which is why she found his past self and asked him to help her stop time travel.
Tae-yi asks angrily how it feels to kill your own past self, and Oh-won says he had no choice if he was to save time travel. He shows her the last page of the Book of Prophecy, but she says that the prophecy on the final page makes no sense because the son’s death and time have no correlation.
Oh-won says that there are things that can’t be explained with the science they’ve developed, like Jin-gyum for example. Tae-yi asks if Jin-gyum and Teacher are really the same person, but Oh-won just tells her a story about a monster:
A long time ago, a monster kidnapped a boy from his mother. The mother pleaded with the monster to keep her son alive. The monster suggested that if the mother solved a riddle, he’d let the child go. The riddle was very simple… “Will I kill your child or not?”
The mother was wise, so she came up with an answer the monster didn’t think of. She answered that the monster would kill her son, so the monster wouldn’t kill her son. Why? If he killed the son, the mother’s answer to the riddle would be right, so he’d have to let the son go.
Tae-yi counters that the story is a paradox with a flaw in the question. Oh-won says that every question in the world contains such flaws, but that there’s still always an answer. He asks Tae-yi what she thinks the monster did, and whispers ominously, “He killed the mother. The monster kept his promise and no longer messed with the son. Instead, he made the son a monster like himself.”
Tae-yi says that Teacher must know what’s on the last page of the book, and asks why he’s stayed quiet until now. Oh-won explains that it’s important for her and Jin-gyum to know, not “us.”
Min-hyuk parks at a large building and tells Jin-gyum to follow him to Alice. He pauses to tell Jin-gyum that his mother’s last request was for him to keep Jin-gyum from Alice, and he tries one last time to convince Jin-gyum to wait while he rescues Tae-yi alone. Jin-gyum just says that they don’t have time for this, but he suddenly stumbles.
Min-hyuk confesses that it’s the pill he gave him: “I’m sorry. For the first and the last time, I’ll be a father to you.” Furious, Jin-gyum tries to fight Min-hyuk, but he collapses unconscious in his arms instead.
Min-hyuk walks into Alice alone and asks to speak to Teacher. Oh-won refuses his request and offers give Teacher a message. Min-hyuk asks why he brought Tae-yi here, and Oh-won says it’s for the last page of the Book of Prophecy, but when Min-hyuk asks what Oh-won plans to do with her, Oh-won says that it shouldn’t matter to him since she’s just someone from the past.
He says that Teacher appreciates Min-hyuk’s contribution and he’ll only be expelled from Alice if he tells them where to find Jin-gyum. Wearily, Min-hyuk says that he doesn’t know, and that he no longer wants to be involved so they can send him back now. He places his weapon on the floor, and Oh-won promises that Min-hyuk will leave tonight.
Min-hyuk goes to the meeting room and opens a secret drawer that holds another weapon. He makes his way to Tae-yi’s room and tells her that when he frees her, she’s to find Jin-gyum and flee together as far as possible. She asks him to come with them, but Min-hyuk says that hearing her say that is reward enough.
He heads to the lobby and points his gun at Oh-won, who ignores it and tells him that Jin-gyum is on his way to Alice. Min-hyuk growls that ordinary people can’t enter Alice, but Oh-won says that there’s nowhere in the world Jin-gyum can’t go. Sure enough, Jin-gyum is speeding towards Alice, and when he gets to the barrier he moves right through it.
Lowering his gun, Min-hyuk begs Oh-won to leave Jin-gyum alone. Oh-won smirks that he’s acting like a father, then shoots Min-hyuk in the leg, tells him that he won’t be able to protect anyone, not even himself. He aims at Min-hyuk’s head, but Tae-yi heard the shot and she comes running into the room.
Min-hyuk gasps that Oh-won has the last page of the book, so he should let Tae-yi go. But Oh-won says that’s why they have no reason to keep her, and he aims his gun at her. He shoots, but Min-hyuk flings himself in front of her at the last second, taking the bullet meant to kill her.
Tae-yi tries to stop the bleeding, and she asks Oh-won accusingly if time travel is so valuable that it’s worth killing so many people. Oh-won counters that she’s the one who insisted that they had to succeed in creating time travel, and he aims to shoot at her again, but Jin-gyum arrives just in time and shoots him.
He shoots Oh-won again, and asks Oh-won why he’s taking things so far. Oh-won says that it was all for him: “Teacher is waiting for you,” then he collapses and dies.
Jin-gyum goes to Min-hyuk and takes his hand, and he asks why Min-hyuk sacrificed himself: “You should have given me time to forgive you.” Min-hyuk gasps that he’s sorry, then looks at Tae-yi, remembering the day that he and his Tae-yi found out she was pregnant and he told her to abort the baby.
He imagines what might have happened if instead, he’d agreed to stay in the past and raise their child together. He promises to make both of them happy and his Tae-yi smiles, and Min-hyuk passes away gently into his happy ending.
Jin-gyum helps Tae-yi to her feet and tells her to wait for him in the car outside. She objects, saying that he’s the “creation” and that all hope is lost if he dies here. But Jin-gyum says that he doesn’t care who he is — as long as the person who killed his mother is here, he can’t leave.
They hear footsteps and a sighing as the hooded stranger, Teacher, approaches them. Jin-gyum warily moves close to Teacher, gun drawn, and asks Teacher why he killed his mother. He screams the question again and fires his gun, but it just clicks ineffectively.
In an ancient voice, Teacher says, “A very long time ago, I asked an old man the exact same question.” He steps forward and places a wrinkled hand on Jin-gyum’s face, then pushes back his hood to reveal… Jin-gyum, with grey hair and wrinkles. At the same time, they both ask, “Who are you?”
Teacher says that like Jin-gyum, he also tried to kill the old man. Jin-gyum screams, “I’m not a monster like you!” but Teacher again says the words at the exact same time. He pulls a very old gun from his pocket and points it at Jin-gyum’s head, and he says that he also tried to deny it, but that now he’s become the old man, and Jin-gyum has come to kill him.
Tae-yi looks at Jin-gyum facing his future self and remembers Oh-won’s riddle. She steps in front of Jin-gyum and tells Teacher not to kill him, saying that the “creation” isn’t just Jin-gyum but Teacher as well. She tells them that they’re from different dimensions but have the same mother, so if Teacher kills Jin-gyum, the prophecy will come true and the door of time will close.
Standing behind her, Jin-gyum sees the Omega symbol that’s now on the back of Tae-yi’s neck, just like his mother’s. We hear Oh-won saying that the monster killed the mother, just as Teacher shoots Tae-yi in the same spot that he stabbed Sun-young.
Jin-gyum holds Tae-yi in his arms, the same way he held his mother as she died. He promises to undo everything, but Tae-yi begs him not to do that and to just run away. Jin-gyum cries that it all ends here, and Tae-yi says weakly, “No, time has neither a beginning nor an end. But a person has a beginning. It has to be stopped.”
She reaches up to his face with a bloody hand, then she’s gone, and for the fourth time, Jin-gyum is left holding her body. He shrieks in grief as Teacher marvels that she always gives her life for him. Jin-gyum gently lays Tae-yi’s body down, then he stands before Teacher and says, “Yes. You have killed a woman who has sacrificed her life for me.”
Teacher says that Jin-gyum hates him now, but someday he’ll thank him. “I saved you, and you saved me. Look at me now. I can control time, but even then, I’m being suffocated by time.”
Jin-gyum shoves his hand away and says that he won’t become like Teacher. Teacher tells Jin-gyum that he only wants to give him the chance to seize time, it Jin-gyum snarls that he’s going to turn everything back the way it should be… “After saving everyone who was killed because of you, I’m going to kill you. You started it, so I’m going to end it.”
Teacher just aims his weapon at Jin-gyum’s head again, but before he can fire, a light flickers and everything warps around him. He freezes in place, and Jin-gyum is gone.
First, that was either the worst makeup job I’ve ever seen, or Joo Won is REALLY not going to age well! Jokes aside, I like the twist of Teacher’s true identity — we’ve known for several episodes that Jin-gyum is likely Teacher, but I never expected Teacher to be Jin-gyum as an old man. Alice continues to surprise me, while still completely baffling me when it comes to the actual time travel sections. I’ll never be able to explain how a drama can be so good at some things, while absolutely terrible at others, so I long ago gave up trying and just do my best to enjoy what I can.
Again, I like the direction this story has taken, with older Jin-gyum being Teacher and the parallel of the monster and the son. It’s interesting storytelling in and of itself. It’s just not cohesive with the first eight episodes, which feel bland and repetitive when I look back on them and which are the basis of most of my confusion. I wish those eight episodes had spent more time on Min-hyuk and Tae-yi/Sun-young’s relationship, and Sun-young’s decision to stay in the past (that really could have been two whole episodes instead of squished into half an episode), which would have given the audience more connection to Min-hyuk and his loss later on. I wanted to see more of Min-hyuk and Jin-gyum doing things other than fighting or growling at each other. I wanted less (okay, none) of Tae-yi’s alarmingly romantic feelings for Jin-gyum. I wanted simpler time travel rules that didn’t change whenever it was convenient, and more plot-building within those rules. And I wanted Jin-gyum not to have alexithymia, because his affliction added nothing to the story and took away Joo Won’s incredible ability to emote when we should have been falling for his character, only to be forgotten in the second half as he alternately sobs or seethes his way through every episode.
I’m going to be extremely honest here — Alice has been one of the most frustrating shows I’ve had to recap in my 6 ½ years with Dramabeans (though nothing will ever be worse for me than Uncontrollably Fond!). It’s not because I don’t like the show, because I do! The casting is great, the cinematography is sleek, and the characters are compelling and make me want to know more about them. But where it all breaks down is the continuity, of which there is very little. As @selena explained, the show has a tendency to set up certain rules then just completely ignore them in favor of a shocking reveal that doesn’t follow the established rules, or introduce new rules (like acquiring memories of other selves through time travel) without setting any sort of basic guidelines for how time travel even works. I would much rather have had the whole system simplified, and had the plot play out within those rules, than have cliffhangers and twists based on nothing that’s been mentioned before.
All this makes a show extremely difficult to recap, because how do you explain what’s happening for your readers when you yourself have no idea what’s going on? I do my best, but I can’t pretend to understand how the time travel is supposed to work or how the whole Alice company operates or whether Sun-young was trying to create it or stop it at any given time. The show even kept the secrets of the final page a mystery for much too long, which makes sense now, but everything Sun-young and Tae-yi have worked on with (good) Oh-won is still murky at best. So I apologize if my recaps are confusing, but they only reflect what the show has conveyed to me, and despite its interesting premise and lovable characters, I still can’t say, with one episode left, that I understand much of it. Still, it’s been an interesting watch, and I hope you guys have been able to enjoy it for what it is, as I have.